tutorial: the 19th street wallet

by Valerie on June 17, 2010

in crafting,sewing,tutorials

A few weeks ago, I went to Dallas for the wedding of a friend of mine from college, and unsurprisingly, the reception ended up doubling as a mini college reunion. Some of those people I literally hadn’t seen since graduation day.

Naturally, the experience got me thinking about the thing I am always thinking about: sewing.

(really).

I already make a cute little single pocket card case/wallet thing that people love to impulse-buy at craft shows, but occasionally I get asked about one with two pockets, that would fold in half.

why 19th street?
I don’t know why I never made one before, but seeing my old college peeps got me thinking. As freshmen, we took our social lives very seriously, and used to venture down 19th Street (NW, Washington, DC) to this particular bar that was, um…liberal with the door policy, if you know what I mean. I used to have a little 2-sided wallet like this, where I stowed my student ID and a $10 bill (really, that’s all you needed back then).

Remembering our 19th street adventures made me think of that critical accessory (nobody carried purses when we went out), and how a handmade version would be pretty cute, and super useful. Sadly, the one I had was brown pleather. You, however, needn’t suffer such atrocities, and can whip up this little cutie in a half hour (really!), in whatever pretty fabric you have!

materials needed

All you need for this wallet/card case (besides your basic sewing supplies), is less than an eighth of a yard of fabric. You could easily make three or four of these with a single fat quarter. I used lightweight quilting cotton, but you could probably use something a bit heavier if you wanted to. Knits or very heavy weight upholstery fabric would probably not work.

I also used lightweight fusible interfacing, but that’s also optional, especially if you use something a bit heavier for the outside.

the pattern
…is really just two rectangles. If you want to make more than one, measure out the rectangles onto some spare paper or poster board. Otherwise, you can measure and mark right on your fabric! The first piece is a rectangle 4 and 5/8″ wide and 5 and 5/8″ tall. The second is the same width and 4.5″ tall.

time to start sewing!
1. Once you choose your fabric(s), you’ll need two large rectangles and two small rectangles, plus two large rectangles of fusible interfacing, if you choose to use it.

The large rectangles form the outside of the wallet and the inside backing of the pockets, and the smaller rectangles form the pockets. I chose a contrasting fabric for the inside backing, but you could make them all match, or choose all different fabrics! This pattern is a super way to use up scraps.

2. The next step is ironing. If you are using interfacing, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply it to the back of the two large rectangles. Fold the smaller rectangles in half so they are 4 and 5/8″ wide and 2.25″ tall, and iron them flat.

3. Now to apply the pockets! I used the striped fabric as the pocket backing, so I lined up the raw edges of the pockets with the raw edges of the pocket backing, and basted them in place.

4. We are seriously almost done! The next step is to sew the whole thing together. Place the two larger rectangles right sides together, matching all four edges, and sew all the way around, using a 3/8″ seam allowance, leaving a small space (maybe 1.5″) on one short side in order to turn it right side out. I like to double up on all my seams.

5. Next, trim the corners at least (I like to trim all the way around), so that your wallet will turn easier and lie flat once it’s finished. Don’t trim over the opening you left.

6. Turn right side out, and use a hot steamy iron (if you’re using cotton) to iron your wallet flat, and then fold in half, matching the pockets together, and iron flat again. Only one more step left!

7. Now you are ready for the last step, closing up the hole you used to turn the wallet right side out. I used two different ways: the first, and my favorite, is to close the hole with a blind stitch and be done with it (on the right below). No visible stitching, plus this wallet is so tiny that it will stay closed in your pocket or in your purse.

The other option is to add a ribbon tie in a coordinating color. I just slipped one end of the ribbon (I used 3/8″ wide grosgrain ribbon about 14″ long) into the opening, and then topstitched all around the wallet, staying as close to the edge as I possibly could. The ribbon then will wrap around the wallet and tuck into itself to keep the wallet closed. Either way works!

And viola! You now have an adorable little card case/wallet that is lightweight, super-slim, and colorful to boot.

You don’t have to be a hard-partying college kid to appreciate the usefulness of this little guy. Let me know if you make one, I’d love to see pictures!

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